Written by John Mackie – Therapist
Upper Body Tension is something that people experience this days. They talk about feeling of stiffness in the upper body but don’t think anything of it, as if it’s normal….and nothing to do with being healthy. They will say “my neck is giving me gyp” or “oh, it’s just old age” not understanding that what is actually going on is the build up of tension. And I am hearing this from people in their twenties!! Our working culture is accelerating this syndrome of “Forward Head Posture“.
“Forward Head Posture“; a phrase that has been coined to describe what is happening to us as we spend more and more time sat in a chair with our head craned forward, looking at a computer screen. As your head leans forward it is losing the support of the spine and so it has to flex and strain the neck and top of the shoulder muscles. Imagine your head being held up in mid-air with nothing below to support it. These muscles will have to work really hard to HOLD the head up….. literally!
It has been said that this is the equivalent of carrying a four stone child around your neck. It is little wonder that we can feel “weighed down” literally. The longer this goes on the more tired and overloaded the muscles get, and slowly the neck starts to drop forward. Further along the road this begins to impact on the upper spine and what you see developing is what is known as curvature of the spine.
Did you know that up to 60% of tension in the body can be held in the Trapezius Muscles at the top of the shoulders and neck. This “Forward Head Posture” syndrome need not have to become the case, with good postural practice & awareness; and Massage Therapy of course. Massage Therapy comes into it’s own when dealing with the stress put upon the upper back and posture. If those tense muscles could speak, they would probably tell you that they are tired, sore, need a break, or are quite simply not going to be able to carry on much longer.
Massage Therapy helps to release tension in those muscles that have become very tight, and restore elasticity to the muscle fibres. And improve circulation of blood and oxygen to the head and brain. It also allows more flexibility in the spine thus improving postural alignment. Otherwise, prolonged poor posture can lead to things like fatigue, low energy, headaches, and low mood……
Upper Body Tension and “Forward Head Posture” are most definitely something to become aware of if you are spending long hours at the desk. The occupational health “hazards”, and postural stress of desk-based work can produce similar characteristics to Sports Injuries.
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